In the first study of its kind, researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Michigan have found that significant financial loss during mid-late life can double your chances of an early death thanks to the associated physiological responses.
In fact, individuals who lost 75 per cent or more of their total wealth within 2 years were 50 per cent more likely to suffer a premature death.
"We found losing your life-savings has a profound effect on person's long-term health," said lead author Lindsay Pool of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It's a very pervasive issue. It wasn't just a few individuals but more than 25 percent of Americans had a wealth shock over the 20 years of the study."
The study suggests that the likely reason for the higher risk of mortality comes down to two main factors. "These people suffer a mental health toll because of the financial loss as well as pulling back from medical care because they can't afford it," Pool said.
After studying over 8000 participants, the researchers are hoping to use the conclusive results to persuade health practitioners to account for their patients financial situation when assessing their holistic health, and prescribing treatment. Having this knowledge will even allow medical professionals to offer preventative treatments that have been effective in similar conditions such as depression and high blood pressure.
"This shows clinicians need to have an awareness of their patients' financial circumstances," Pool said. "It's something they need to ask about to understand if their patients may be at an increased health risk."